Review: Psychopathology in childhood epilepsy




Population-based studies of psychopathology are important in childhood epilepsy given that there is a spectrum of severity with regard to the impact of epilepsy and associated behavioural/psychiatric difficulties.


Population-based studies in childhood epilepsy which have focused on global measures of psychopathology and rates of specific behavioural and psychiatric disorders were reviewed with respect to prevalence of disorders and possible correlates of difficulties. Clinic-based studies and meta-analyses were reviewed where they added to an understanding of the correlates or treatment of psychopathology in childhood epilepsy. The systematic review methodology was based on a search of PubMed from January 1980 to June 2011.


Children with epilepsy are at significantly higher risk for a range of behavioural and psychiatric disorders including attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), depressive and anxiety disorders. Available evidence suggests that these difficulties are under-recognised and there have been few studies focussing on interventions to treat these behavioural and psychiatric issues in childhood epilepsy.


Population-based studies suggest high rates of psychopathology in childhood epilepsy. As a result children with epilepsy need close monitoring with regard to the presence of behavioural difficulties. There is a need for studies on how such difficulties can be best managed so that affected children and their families can maximise their quality of life.